It often comes up in the context of people having asked us what our reasons for homeschooling are. Most of us do, of course, have reasons. Some felt that the school system was failing their children, some feel it’s a lower quality education offered in public schools. Others have children with special needs that are better met at home, and others still just prefer the closeness of the family that comes with homeschooling.
But we all have found, at one point or another, that someone has asked us, “Why?” Why do we homeschool? Why do we feel that what we are doing is better for our family than public school would be?
Many of us have answered those questions without really thinking much about it. But this morning, as I responded to someone in the online group who was suddenly questioning whether or not her reasons were “good” ones or “bad” ones, my own “Why?” occurred to me.
Why do we answer these questions?
No one ever asks the public school family why they choose to send their child to public school. We don’t question their decision to send their child off to complete strangers and trust those total strangers to be responsible (almost entirely) for their child’s education.
No, it’s only those who choose to homeschool, and occasionally those who send their children to private school, who are asked why.
When a public school parent takes their child to the post office after school, no one in line quizzes the child on their multiplication tables or asks them if they can read.
No, it’s just the homeschooled child who goes with his/her mother during the school day that is expected to be able to multiply 12 x 12, or read at an 11th grade level – when they’re 5.
If you think about it, those that ask us why we homeschool are really being rather rude. If someone asked a public school parent why they send their child to public school, that person would be considered to be rude and impolite. Yet, when they ask us that same question in regard to homeschooling, we simply answer the question and don’t even consider whether or not it was even appropriate for them to ask it.
What’s worse, when you’re only just beginning to homeschool, or maybe still in the process of just considering the possibilities, being asked that question can make you doubt yourself and your decision.
Sometimes, in those very early days, it can be hard to explain why you’ve chosen to homeschool. You might know, but putting it into words for others (especially if you’re feeling criticized or uncertain) may not be easy.
So, if you’re one of those new-to-homeschooling parents, or even if you’re an old hand at it, here’s my suggestion to you: Don’t feel obligated to answer that question.
Just as a public school parent doesn’t have to defend or explain their reasons for using public school, you do not have to explain or defend your reasons for homeschooling. Be bold enough to call someone out on their rudeness and tell them that you won’t answer that because it’s none of their business.
In fairness, sometimes those who ask are just genuinely curious, or have other legitimate reasons for asking. And in those cases, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t answer if you want to. But you shouldn’t feel like you must answer.